Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This and That

First off, my first archaeological find! While walking through one of the pastures a few weeks ago, I found this interesting rock. I put it in my jacket pocket, where it sat for a few days. Then I remembered it and placed it on the toilet tank lid (the bathroom is right across from where I hang my jacket), where it sat for another week or so. Finally, the other night after dinner, Larry and I were discussing something which brought us to the subject of rocks - probably the fact that there are so many of them in some of the pastures - and I thought of my toilet-sitting rock. We washed it off (it was in the pasture, after all, and the "dirt" on it might have been more than dirt - remember, we were at the dinner table) and began studying it and imagining what it might be. Well, low and behold, turns out it is something called a "nutting" stone or "cupping" stone. No one knows for sure, but they are found throughout the country and the "experts" seem to think they might have been used for cracking open nuts or grinding bits of grain or dye ingredients or as a base for fire starting implements. In any case, I was excited, since when I was about 10 or 12, I wanted to be an archaeologist when I grew up.

In sheepy news, we sorted out the breeding groups last weekend. We started at 9:00 am on Sunday. First we caught up all the BWS ewes. Nicholas and Larry grabbed each ewe while I consulted my clipboard, instructing them to push the ewe into Val's (Coopworth) breeding group or Heinz's (Polypay) group. We then loaded up Heinz's girls into the trailer and carted them across the road to their new pen to await their "man". Val's girls were turned back out into their pasture to await Val. Larry and Nicholas loaded the two rams into the trailer (back on this side of the road), while I caught up the Shetland girls to await their sorting. Then we took Heinz over to join his harem, loaded up the two Shetland rams we are using this fall (Eddie and Edsel - at the time, being housed across the road) and headed back to this side of the road. Then we pulled the four Shetland ewes out that were going to the far part of the pasture and moved them. Next, the ewe lambs were pulled out to stay in their little pen. Finally the remaining Shetland ewes were taken to their part of the pasture. Fortunately, all the Shetland pastures/pens are adjacent and the girls just had to be led into their areas using the ever effective corn bucket and locked behind the appropriate gates. Then Eddie was taken out of the trailer and put in with his girls, then Edsel was removed from the trailer and temporarily restrained with a halter while Val was let in with his girls. Then Edsel was led to his part of the pasture.

Next, back across the road, this time with a smaller "cart", to grab a couple of ewes that had remained in with the last of the lambs this fall, to bring back to our side of the road and be put in with Sammy, our other Polypay ram, so he would not be lonely. Then, Larry called it a day (by now it was around noon), as he had to go into work that night. But Nicholas and I went back across the road, as Bubba (our Coopworth ram lamb and future flock sire) was now alone (he had been keeping company with the Shetland rams) and was baaing very pitifully from his pen. So we moved the Shetland ram lambs over with him, where they are now residing happily in their bachelor pad. And the remaining market lambs still needed to be fed and watered.

At this point, it was about 1:00 pm and Nicholas was given the rest of the day off. I took a 10 minute break to have a dish of ice cream (AKA "lunch"). Then I was back out moving water buckets around into the new areas, feeding those groups who don't have the big bales, and just doing a general check on everyone. All the rams were doing their thing, neck outstretched, lips curled, sniffing out the ewes who might be in heat. And the ewes were doing their level best not to be caught. But I did notice a couple of ewes being mounted, so Larry tells me April 9 we should begin lambing!

At this point, I called it a day - fortunately the Packers had a late start (3:15), but I had already missed the opening kick off - long day for me - 6-1/2 hours straight, most of it on my feet. My muscles are still sore! But the Packers won and the breeding groups are sorted, so it was a very productive day!

Some sheep pics for you - Eddie, who is in with a dozen Shetland ewes. He must have spent all of Sunday chasing the girls, as he looked like he had collapsed on Monday morning - I even threw my jacket on over my pajamas to go out to make sure he was still alive. But he is alive and well - although I swear he looks like he has already lost some weight!

Lily, one of the girls in with Eddie -

This is part of Val's mostly Coopworth group (there are a few Polypays and crossbred ewes in there). Some of the girls are so fat this year - I hope not too fat. And I'm not sure why - they were on less than optimal pasture right before being put on hay.

And this is the view from the lamb pasture, looking back out over the hay fields. The sun was shining through the clouds so nicely - can you see the rays shining down behind the flag?
Hope everyone is having a good "midweek"! The weekend is coming!